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Special Rate Variation goes to Council on February 2

Byron Shire Council’s proposed Special Rate Variation will be decided at the February 2 Council meeting.

At this meeting, Council will determine whether or not to submit an application to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) for assessment, and the percentage increase on general rates.

At the December Council meeting, it was again highlighted that without a Special Rate Variation there would be increased significant failure of high risk assets that would not be immediately fixed; this includes potential bridges, roads and building closures.

No increase above the rate peg, would see the general rates rise by an estimated 9.3% over the upcoming four years. This would exclude the water, waste and sewer.

Mayor Simon Richardson said there was still more work to be done on the issue, however it could not be disputed that additional funding desperately needed to be spent on maintaining and upgrading infrastructure.

“A special rate variation is part of the solution.  We also need to look at the different rating categories of residential, farmland and business and how this is distributed.

“Council has also listened to community feedback and share the belief that there is a need for the tourism sector to carry more of the rates burden - we will investigate options for levies which are applied to those who profit from tourism,” he said.

The report to Council on 2 February will consider the effect on the different rating categories and on people living in different areas of the Shire, options for distributing a higher proportion of the rate burden to those businesses which benefit from tourism, and an assessment of Holiday let properties within a business category.

“Effectively we need to look at the total rates ‘pie’ and try and be fair in the way it is sliced up.

“Plus we need to keep looking for new revenue sources and this includes a tourism levy or tariff and what it would mean if we increase the pay parking rate from $3 to $4 per hour,” Mayor Richardson said.

Council has also reviewed its Hardship Policy to minimise the impact on pensioners and ratepayers who fall on difficult times.

The revised Integrated Planning and Reporting documents are on public exhibition until 18 January. They include:

  • Revised Draft Delivery Program 2014-2017
  • Draft Strategic Asset Management Plan (General Fund)
  • Draft Long Term Financial Plan 2016-2026

The above documents bring together Council’s various strategies, plans and budgets to provide services, infrastructure and ensure future sustainability. They include the scenario of no rate increase and the three options of 7.5%, 10% and 12.15%.

A Special Rate Variation is part of Council’s Fit for the Future, Council Improvement Program.

Without a Special Rate Variation, Council’s ‘Base Case’, as detailed within the Draft Strategic Asset Management Plan and the Draft Long Term Financial Plan, demonstrates that Council will not be financially sustainable and the condition of assets will continue to significantly decline and fail.

The rate rise will be determined in February 2017 and the official application made soon afterwards. If successful, it would come into effect from July 2017.

You can read the consultation report and updated Integrated Planning and Reporting documents at www.byron.nsw.gov.au.

Feedback on the amended Integrated Planning and Reporting documents, and the inclusion of the Special Rate Variation options, can be emailed to submissions@byron.nsw.gov.au. Or posted to The General Manager, Byron Shire Council, PO Box 219, Mullumbimby NSW 2482.

Media contact:

Media Communication Officer
Byron Shire Council
Ph: 02 6626 7320

Byron Shire is located at Australia's eastern-most point with a population of almost 29,000. It is a thriving community where residents and visitors live, work and play in a sustainable environment and where Council strives to deliver the highest standard of local government services and infrastructure.